RealManage Insight

Planning a Thanksgiving Food Drive in Your Community Association

by Amanda Causey on Nov 3, 2020 8:27:00 AM

Thanksgiving is when we remember the value of a simple meal shared with family. We appreciate simple foods like roast turkey, green beans, and cheesy potatoes. Every family has their own special Thanksgiving traditions, but the one tradition we'd all like to share is giving back. The unused sections of our neighborhood pantries could feed dozens of families this Thanksgiving, and now is the time when we have charity and the essential values of food.

Community associations are in a unique position to lead a neighborhood food drive. With community locations and a contact list including every homeowner in the neighborhood, you can bring everyone together to do the most good without driving far from home. Let's dive into the planning process for this year's HOA or condo association food drive.

Food Drive Planning Essentials

Set the Donation Drive Dates

  • Setup Date:
  • Starting Date:
  • Campaign Attention Dates:
  • End Date:
  • Donation Delivery Date:

Start with your dates. The first duration is when your donation boxes will be opened and the last day.  Then you can plan your setup days and the day you will deliver the total donation to your charity of choice. Once you have set your actual start and end dates you can focus on the campaign attention dates, choose times that you can use to boost your awareness campaign throughout the month.

Set Your Donation Goals

  • Item Count:
  • Weight:
  • Boxes Filled:

Above are some examples of way that you can establish goals. Post your goals publicly, ideally in large neighborhood signs or using online graphics. Show the rising thermometer or the filling soup pot to represent how close you are to the goal.  This motivates the neighborhood to dive deep into the unused reaches of pantries and cupboards to help the entire community to reach the target donation amount you set as a goal.

Create a Friendly Competition

  • Designate Even-Sized Teams (streets or sections of the neighborhood)
  • Visibly Post and Update Team Donations
  • Get the entire neighborhood Involved

Send out flyers or mail letting each house know which team they are one. Each week, or twice a week during your campaign, send updates on the current donation count and which team is winning. Update your website to keep an accurate daily count as well. Even households that were initially neutral can get motivated just to win a local contest for charity and feel like part of the team.

Post-COVID Donation Basics

Additional Supplies 

  • Masks & Gloves
  • Disinfectants & Other Cleaning Supplies
  • Open Storage
  • Scheduled Donation Distancing

The key to a successful drive has always been accessible donation boxes. The recent pandemic has made public gatherings and collections more complicated. Put some thought into a post-COVID design for your donation box locations and the methods of donation. You can add Hand Sanitizer Stations or ask that donations be left at a particular home and have the owner disinfect any items they collect.

If volunteers will man donation sites, they will need to be equipped with masks and gloves.  Cleaning supplies may be necessary to sanitize all donations or to keep the donation area clean. You may organize curbside pickup or instead schedule donation times so that neighbors never accidentally gather at the donation spots.

Additional Considerations

Organize Volunteers

  • Gather Volunteers
  • Designate Leaders
  • Coordinate Team Activities

Food drives run on volunteers, and HOAs are no exception. Find the most energetic and interested members of the community to handle setup, man a donation table, or run the awareness campaign.

Designate group leaders and enumerate the tasks for every volunteer. Get it on a schedule and help everyone coordinate with online resources. Each donation day, make calls to ensure the team is ready for the collection and the count.

Raise Awareness in the Neighborhood

  • Local Neighborhood Campaign
  • Online Campaign
  • Awareness Raising Events & Tactics

Use all your resources to raise awareness for the food drive. Post flyers, add to the bulletin board, and update your website homepage. Create a digital campaign through social media and maybe even a post in the local papers. Send out an email and mailer newsletter giving everyone in the neighborhood a chance to learn about the food drive.

Most of all, highlight the donation locations, dates, open hours. Help busy locals quickly identify times when they could swing by with a few boxes of cans and nonperishable staples.

Plan a few different tactics and lesser events to raise awareness for the food drive. You may theme each week for donation items and the topics of your online posts. You may send a different flyer about your hunger charity each week to help raise awareness for the drive. Judge the taste and response patterns of your community to know which tactics will be the most effective.

Post Signs to Direct Spontaneous Donations

Finally, we strongly advise that you post signs. Many HOA neighborhood donations come from spontaneous decisions on an empty afternoon. A member commuting home who sees the food drive sign might promptly empty their pantry and drop off a box - provided they can easily find the location.

Post attention-grabbing signs that direct locals to your open donation spots. You might even get a few non-residents who live nearby and are grateful for a quick Thanksgiving charity opportunity.

Organizing a Thanksgiving food drive is a great experience for the whole community. Contact us for more detailed insights on how to plan the right food drive for your community design and local needs.

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